Dallas’ “gay Latino godfather” Jesus Chairez is participating in a project to produce a national history of gay Latino activism.
Chairez, who was appointed president of LGBT radio station KNON’s board of directors in October, said he recently resigned from that position to focus on the history project and to allow more time for travel in Mexico.
Serving on the KNON board was rewarding, but the volunteer work was time-consuming, said Chairez, who returned to Dallas last year after retiring in Mexico City. He lived there for three years and plans to return there for a long visit this summer.
“It was a full-time job,” said Chairez of his KNON work. “I was not following my dream. Since being on the board I had not blogged, not written a column, nor even started my own book.”
Chairez and several other gay Latino writers are cooperating in the writing of the planned book “Latina/o GLBT Activism in the U.S. and Puerto Rico: A Social History.” The writers will present first-person narratives about events they witnessed from the 1970s through the 1990s. The release of the book is planned for this summer.
“This project is a response to both the invisibility within mainstream Latina/o organizations, and a gringo GLBT movement,” Chairez said in a statement. “This book aims to preserve our GLBT Latino history as Latinas/os and activists as we experienced it, and in that sense my contribution is essential.”
Chairez said he he expects the book will offer new perspectives to understand gay Latino organizations, and that it will be a valuable resource for scholars, students, the public and future generations.
“Lots of folks in the GLBT Dallas community, especially the younger folks, don’t know the Dallas GLBT Latino/a history,” Chairez said.
Chairez plans to include information about organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Hispanic Coalition de Dallas, of which he was president, that existed in the 1980s. One member of that group was Jose Plata, the first openly gay person elected to the Dallas school board.
Information about gay Latino bars such as Bamboleo’s that opened in 1989 will also be in the 5,000-word essay Chairez is writing. Chairez said that a gay Latino bar was needed because his community often felt discriminated against in Dallas’ gay Anglo bars.
Another feature of the history will be Sin Fronteras, the first U.S. LGBT Latino radio show that went on the air in 1993 on KNON. The show was on the air for 12 years. After its debut, Lesbianas Latinas de Dallas formed, and one of its members was Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Chairez said.
“There is so much else to say, but that will be in the book,” Chairez said.